ROK and Inter-Korean relations
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Seoul Could Buy Release of S.Koreans in North
Seoul is to work out a plan to bring back South Koreans abducted by North Korea and prisoners of war still languishing there, based on West Germany's policy of giving the East cash and materials in return for the release of political prisoners. The Unification Ministry is to make the announcement in a New Year's policy briefing at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday.
The ministry will also lay out plans to supply daily necessities that would help improve the quality of North Koreans in addition to food and fertilizer aid to the North.
Inter-Korean Dialogue 'to Resume Later Next Year'
The two Koreas will start talking again in the latter half of 2009 if the North still finds itself in dire straits, the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security speculates in a report out Monday.
"In the latter part of 2009, in case Pyongyang is still deadlocked in the six-party talks and relations with the U.S., there is a possibility that it may try to reengage in dialogue with South Korea," the report says. "If its food shortage deteriorates and the economic crisis continues, the North could use inter-Korean dialogue in an effort to overcome them."
[Tribute] [NK SK relations] [Obama]
Minister Expresses Regret to Independence Fighters
By Kim Rahn
Culture Minister Yu In-chon expressed his regret Monday over the government booklet that sparked a backlash from a group of independence fighters and their descendents.
The expression came after the Korea Liberation Association (KLA) announced that they would return their state-awarded medals to the government, claiming the booklet degraded their dedication and honor.
The association claimed that the government brochure, published in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the national foundation, degraded the Provisional Government of Korea, which was set up in Shanghai in 1919 during Japan's colonial rule.
The brochure, written by conservative historians, said: ``The Provisional Government of Korea, without its own territory and people and international approval, neither represented an independent country, nor effectively administered a nation. Considering this, we see that democracy began here in accordance with the establishment of the Republic of Korea in August 1948.''
[Column] North Korean human rights and the Helsinki Process
Moon Chung-in, Professor, Political Science Department, Yonsei University
In an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, Jay Lefkowitz, U.S. President George W. Bush’s Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, suggests to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama that he challenge North Korea directly about its human rights record, strongly suggesting that Obama package human rights together with economic aid and apply something like the Helsinki Process to Pyongyang.
Who would ever question the urgent need to improve human rights in North Korea? The problem here, however, is Lefkowitz’s self-serving interpretation of what the Helsinki Process is.
S. Korea’s Weapons Exports Top $1 Billion This Year
South Korea sold more than $1 billion worth of weapons and defense articles abroad this year, possibly becoming one of the world's 15 largest weapons exporters, Yonhap News reported Monday.
This is the first time the country has exported more than $1 billion worth of defense goods since its first overseas sale of some $470,000 in rifle ammunitions to Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States in 1975, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
[Arms sales] [Double standards] [Military balance]
Government refuses to provide funding for aid to N. Korea
Annual tangerine and carrot shipment could be discontinued for the first time in 11 years
The Jeju provincial government’s call for funds to ship tangerines and carrots to North Korea met with refusal from the central government, which cited a lack of transparency in the distribution process and inappropriate timing. This is the first time in 11 years the South Korean government has halted the annual shipment of tangerines and carrots, which are distributed primarily to North Korean children, following a full-scale stoppage of government-sponsored humanitarian aid of food to the North.
Pyongyang Bids Korean Wave to Recede
North Korean authorities are reportedly cracking down on DVDs of South Korean TV dramas and radios that can tune into South Korean broadcasts to stem the Korean pop culture wave that has belatedly hit the North.
A source familiar with North Korean affairs on Wednesday said some 10 episodes of a 30-episode South Korean drama series are normally copied on a DVD in China and smuggled into North Korea. And these spread quickly among North Koreans via the black market.
Many North Korean border guards or security officers charged with cracking down on the practice can apparently be bribed to close an eye.
A South Korean intelligence official said, "Especially, North Korea developed its own DVD player in 2006 with a view to developing its own IT industry, this ironically provided momentum for the spread of South Korean soap operas."
Radio also played a role in the late arrival of the Korean Wave. North Koreans must report their radios to regional security offices and have them permanently soldered to receive only state channels. But a flood of smuggled radios from China is allowing an increasing number of North Koreans to listen clandestinely to South Korean broadcasts.
South Korean broadcasts can be received with satellite antennas south of Pyongyang. A South Korean intelligence officer said some senior North Korean officials watch the 9 o'clock news on South Korean TVs in the evening and even watch the morning news from the South before going to work.
Propaganda Fliers to N.Korea to Resume in January
Activists on Thursday vowed to start sending anti-communist leaflets to North Korea again in January. Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea and Fighters for Free North Korea told Grand National Party chairman Park Hee-tae early they were suspending the campaign for the time being after North Korea shut off cross-border communication and threatened to close the Kaesong Industrial Complex citing the leaflets.
Choi Sung-yong, the head of the Family Assembly, told the Chosun Ilbo by telephone, "The two Koreas are still not conducting any substantive dialogue, and North Korea has shown no sign of trying to resolve the Kaesong issue and the shooting to death of a South Korean tourist in the Mt. Kumgang resort."
The next batch of fliers will carry letters from the families of two South Korean prisoners of war or those abducted to the North. Some 300,000 have already been printed and are ready to be sent early next month, Choi added.
Korea, Japan and China Hold Culture Summit
The culture ministers from Korea, Japan and China met in Jeju on Thursday.
The ministers discussed ways to exchange arts and cultural programs, protect cultural assets in East Asia and create cooperative arts programs such as the opera company BESETO, short for Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo, made up of singers from the three countries. They also adopted a Jeju Declaration, promising to increase culture-related projects.
Ahead of the meeting, Korea's Culture Minister Yu In-chon suggested the three nations designate an "Asia Culture Month" to attract more foreign visitors to the region.
S. Korean Authorities Indicted for Driving Inter-Korean Relations to Crisis
Pyongyang, December 25 (KCNA) -- The National Reunification Institute (NRI) Wednesday made public an indictment clarifying who is the arch criminal that has driven the inter-Korean relations to the worst phase and who is to blame for having bedeviled them.
The deteriorated inter-Korean relations are entirely attributable to the sycophancy and treachery and anti-DPRK confrontation pursued by the Lee Myung Bak group, the indictment notes, citing the following facts to prove them:
From the very first day of their office the south Korean authorities totally nullified and scrapped the June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration.
Spy Suspect Attempts Suicide
By Kim Rahn
Won Jeong-hwa, a jailed North Korean spy, attempted to kill herself in her prison cell, Tuesday.
The 34-year-old spy, who has been behind bars since receiving a five-year jail term after being found guilty of violating the National Security Law, tried to hang herself with a towel in her cell. A correctional officer guarding her noticed and stopped her, according to Suwon Detention Center, Thursday.
Officers there said that Won had been depressed since appearing recently as a witness in the trials of her stepfather and former lover, an Army First Lieutenant Hwang, both of whom were also indicted on the same charges. They said she also showed signs of depression after seeing her daughter interviewed at the prison.
``She has worried about her family in North Korea and missed her daughter. The suicide attempt failed and her health is fine,'' an officer said.
Won came to the South in 2001 posing as a North Korean defector. She relayed military secrets from Army officers with whom she'd had sexual relations over the past five years to the North.
Legitimacy of ROK
Ideological Brawl Cannot Save Nation From Economic Crisis
Watching desolate auto plants and a chaotic National Assembly, Koreans are hoping the economy will get better through bipartisan cooperation next year.
Unfortunately, the economy is feared to remain in the doldrums even if the global situation improves, as the fight between liberals and conservatives may even leave parliament and spread to the rest of society.
More frustratingly for the people, at the forefront of the expanded ideological battle is President Lee Myung-bak, who recently cited the establishment of the ``legitimacy of the Republic of Korea'' as one of his three major policy goals for 2009, along with economic recovery and reforms.
President Lee seems set to spend his second year in office on putting Korea back to two decades ago. Most Koreans will be spending this year-end praying he will change his mind.
Two Views on North Korea
By Tong Kim
The year 2008 is eclipsing into history with the latest failure of multilateral nuclear talks in Beijing to agree on a verification protocol to check North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Now the North Korean nuclear issue, as incomplete and unsatisfactory as it may be, will be turned over to the incoming Obama administration in January.
Is N.Korea Coming Round?
Seoul is tapping North Korea for behind-the-scenes dialogue amid speculation that Pyongyang's attitude is softening a little.
Five North Korean military officers led by Lt. Gen. Kim Yong-chol, head of the policy planning office of the National Defense Commission, visited the Kaesong industrial park on Dec. 17 and 18 but did not create an intimidating atmosphere, as they had done during their earlier visit on Nov. 6, a Unification Ministry official said.
During his earlier visit in November, Kim asked firms there pointedly how long it would take them to pack up and leave, and immediately afterwards, North Korea put restrictions on traffic movement to and from the industrial park.
But during his latest visit, Kim was quoted by the ministry as asking mainly about the operation of the industrial park, including working conditions for the North Korean staff.
Seoul Seeking to Invite 21 Allies for 2010 Summit
By Jung Sung-ki
President Lee Myung-bak plans to invite the leaders of 21 nations, which fought alongside South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War, to Seoul in 2010 for a summit on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the fratricidal conflict, officials said Monday.
The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs is preparing the plan as part of programs to commemorate the anniversary, the officials said.
Inter-Korean Channels 'Not Completely Blocked'
South Korea is seeking behind-the-scenes dialogue with the North and has told the U.S., China and Japan it hopes icy relations will thaw in spring.
A senior government official in Seoul said North Korea "doesn't always maintain a hardline stance against South Korea. We've been told through various channels that the position has become more flexible."
Ssangyong Unable to Pay Staff
Korea's smallest carmaker Ssangyong Motors on Sunday said it cannot pay December salaries, which were due on Wednesday. Domestic carmakers saw a steep drop in sales in due to the worldwide economic crisis, but this is the first time a domestic automaker has failed to pay workers the money it owes them.
In letters to staff sent Friday, Ssangyong said, "The company is expected to post a deficit of more than W100 billion (US$1=W1,292) this year alone. Due to lack of operating funds for December, it is impossible for the company to pay salaries any longer."
It had asked the head office of its parent company Shanghai Automotive Industry in China for emergency operating funds, but the request was turned because the in-house union had called for Chinese executives to resign, Ssangyong said. Shanghai Automotive took over Ssangyong in January 2005 by buying 48.9 percent stake, bringing holdings to 51.3 percent. Ssangyong employs about 8,000 staff -- 2,500 white-collar workers and 5,500 production-line workers.
Obama 1st, Kim Jong-il 12th on 'Power Elite' List
U.S. president-elect Barack Obama ranks first on Newsweek's list of "The Global Elite: 50 Most Powerful People" released Saturday. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il ranks 12th.
Newsweek said Obama "will be judged by whether he can save capitalism" from the global crisis.
Then why did North Korean leader Kim Jong-il rank 12th? Apparently because he still exercises influence managing the controversial nuclear weapons and medium- and long-range missiles and leading millions of troops despite signs of ill health. While the weekly describes him as "dangerous," he is the only Korean in the top 50.
New North Korea policy, please
Kim Yun-ok, a former representative of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, left, joined civic groups and religious and cultural leaders in issuing an “Emergency Declaration Calling for the Normalization of Inter-Korean Relations” at the Korea Press Center on December 18. The groups are demanding major changes to the Lee Myung-bak administration’s North Korea policy.
- THE ERRORS OF LEE MYUNG BAK-STYLE DISENGAGEMENT
Posted Date : 2008-12-19 (IFES Forum No. 08-12-19-1)
by Keun-shik Kim (Professor, Department of Political Science, Kyungnam University)
Inter-Korean relations are moving past simply being stalled, and are moving toward confrontation. North Korea is not easing off the pressure as it demands implementation of the October 4 Declaration, while the Lee Myung-bak administration insists ‘waiting is a strategy, too’, and stands firm on its response to the North. It appears to have chosen a policy position of pulling back from the North, even to the point of suspending relations, rather than relying on dialog and exchanges. Ultimately, the Lee Myung-bak administration’s stance toward the North appears to forgo existing engagement policy and choose an isolating policy of disengagement.
1st Aegis Destroyer to Begin Service
By Jung Sung-ki
South Korea's first Aegis-equipped destroyer, Sejong the Great, will begin operations Monday after 19 months of successful sea trials, the Navy said Sunday.
A commissioning ceremony will take place at a Navy Operations Command shipyard in Busan, it said in a news release.
The 7,600-ton KDX-III destroyer fitted with the Aegis Combat System is expected to play a key role in helping the Navy develop its blue-water capability beyond the traditional coastal defense against North Korean ships, Navy officials said.
The Aegis System, built by Lockheed Martin of the United States, is the world's premier surface-to-air/fire-control system, capable of simultaneous operations against aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles, ships and submarines. Only a few countries, such as the United States, Japan, Spain and Norway, have Aegis warships.
Dashed expectations and hope for the next four years
One year ago today, the citizens of this nation watched the victory of Lee Myung-bak in the presidential election with high hopes. He won by the largest margin in South Korean history. It was the first time a Grand National Party candidate obtained overwhelming support in Seoul and the capital region. This was an expression of their expectation that he would heal conflicts in Korean society, split by region and class, and save the economy by embodying in his policies what the people were really hoping for. He too said that he took these feelings of the people very seriously. As he reflected on his election, he said, “Our divided society must achieve social unity and citizen unity.” At a press conference, he said, “The people have chosen practicality rather than ideology. I will usher in an age of citizen success, wiping their tears and sharing their hopes.” Even people who did not vote for him expected at least that the new administration would go in this direction and thought that even if it didn’t go as far as an “age of citizen success,” they could share in the fruits of a slightly improved economy.
Now, exactly one year later, those expectations have been ruthlessly shattered
[MB’s laws] North Korean Human Rights Acts
Editor’s note: The ruling Grand National Party says it is going to pass controversial legislation on its own, with the backing of President Lee Myung-bak, and the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, says it will boycott the extraordinary National Assembly session. On the occasion of a Cold War shaping up among legislators, The Hankyoreh decided to take a close look at the bills up for consideration. Today, we look at two bills on human rights in North Korea.
- North Korea Says It Foiled South’s Spy Plot to Kill Kim Jong-Il
By Jonathan Tirone
Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- North Korea said it foiled a South Korean plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong-Il and broke up a spy ring conducting surveillance of the communist nation’s nuclear facilities.
North Korean police recently arrested a man they identified only as Ri, who started his mission early this year after being recruited by South Korean intelligence officials, the official Korean Central News Agency cited the State Security Ministry in Pyongyang as saying today. The agent was caught with “acoustic sensing and pursuit devices for tracking the movement of the top leader and even violent poison in the end,” the ministry said.
On The Border: Human Trafficking Thrives Across N.Korea-China Border
A 26-year-old North Korean woman, Mun Yun-hee crossed the Duman or Tumen River into China in the dawn of Oct. 22 last year, which at that point was some 40 m wide, guided by a human trafficker. She was being sold to a single middle-aged Chinese farmer into a kind of indentured servitude-cum-companionship. Both of them wore only panties, having stored their trousers and shoes in bags, because if you are found wearing wet clothes across the river deep at night, it is a dead giveaway that you are a North Korean refugee.
Escapee Tells of Horrors in North Korean Prison Camp
Shin Dong-hyuk says that he was tortured and that he saw his mother hanged and his brother shot to death. Despite his escape to the South, he has found great difficulty in simply learning to live a normal life there.
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 11, 2008; Page A01
SEOUL -- In Camp No. 14, the North Korean political prison where Shin Dong-hyuk was born and where he says he watched the hanging of his mother, inmates never saw a picture of Kim Jong Il.
"I had no idea who he is," Shin said, referring to the leader whose photograph is displayed nearly everywhere in North Korea.
Inmates did not need to know the face of their "Dear Leader," as Kim is called. Behind electrified fences, they tended pigs, tanned leather, collected firewood and labored in mines until they died or were executed.
Defense minister under fire for controversial remarks
Many newly-conscripted soldiers ‘have biased perceptions of the nation, the nation’s enemies and history’: Defense minister
Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee recently created controversy when he said, “Among the newly-conscripted soldiers, there are a significant number of people who regard 60 years of the Republic of Korea as a history of collaborators and flunkies and the military as a tool of governance by the establishment, along with other people who have biased perceptions of the nation, the nation’s enemies and history.”
Daewoo to Build 4th 1,800-ton Submarine
By Jung Sung-ki
Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering will be commissioned to build the Navy's fourth Type-214 1,800-ton submarine equipped with high-tech missiles and sensor systems as part of programs to create an expanded submarine command by 2018, a military source said Monday.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration will ink a contract with Daewoo soon, the source said on condition of anonymity. Daewoo competed with Hyundai Heavy Industries, which constructed the first batch of three Type-214 submarines, for the bidding, he said.
The per-unit price will be about 110 billion won.
The Navy aims to launch a total of nine Type-214s by 2018 in a bid to strengthen its blue-water capability, and will also seek to acquire locally built 3,000-ton submarines.
The diesel-electric submarine, which was first built with technical cooperation from Germany's Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), is expected to play a key role in sea defense against North Korea and other hostile forces, and anti-submarine warfare, Navy officials said
Children 'Executed' in 1950 South Korean Killings: ROK and US responsibility
Charles J. Hanley and Jae-Soon Chang
Seoul—Government investigators digging into the grim hidden history of mass political executions in South Korea have confirmed that dozens of children were among many thousands shot by their own government early in the Korean War.
The investigative Truth and Reconciliation Commission has thus far verified more than two dozen mass killings of leftists and supposed sympathizers, among at least 100,000 people estimated to have been hastily shot and dumped into makeshift trenches, abandoned mines or the sea after communist North Korea invaded the south in June 1950.
The killings, details of which were buried in classified U.S. files for a half-century, were intended to keep southern leftists from aiding the invaders at a time when the rightist, U.S.-allied government was in danger of being overrun by communist forces.
[Korean War events] [War crimes]
Korean Space Launch Vehicle Grounded
Development of the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-2, the first that was to be wholly Korean-made, has been shelved as import of Russian rocket technologies has become impossible. Development was expected to begin immediately after the launch of KSLV-1, a small launch vehicle that will carry a satellite into orbit.
Dr. Chang Young-keun of the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation, said development of the KSLV-2 was premised on the possible take-over of first-stage rocket technologies from Russia. "But a complete revision has become inevitable as Russia has refused to transfer technologies citing the Technology Safeguard Agreement."
Government-made DVD highlights dictatorship, skips democratization movement
The April 19 Revolution, a turning point in the democratization movement, is presented as the ‘April 19 Demonstrations’
A modern history DVD made by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and distributed to over 10,000 elementary, middle and high schools nationwide features content predominantly disparaging the “April 19 Revolution” that occurred in 1960 as the “April 19 Demonstrations” and praising former Presidents Syngman Rhee, Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan. This DVD was produced as one of the projects promoted by the Lee Myung-bak administration to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Korea
summary execution of South Korean political prisoners in 1950
This file photograph by the U.S. Army taken in July 1950 and provided by the U.S. National Archives in College Park, Md., on Monday, May 5, 2008, is one of a series of declassified images depicting the summary execution of South Korean political prisoners by the South Korean military and police at Daejeon, South Korea, over several days in July 1950. The investigative Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimated earlier this year that at least 100,000 leftists and supposed sympathizers were hastily shot throughout South Korea and dumped into makeshift trenches, abandoned mines or the sea in 1950 after communist North Korea invaded the south. (AP Photo/National Archives, U.S. Army, File)
[Korean war events] [War crimes]
Lee Myung Bak Group Fully to Blame for Deteriorated Inter-Korean Relations
Pyongyang, December 5 (KCNA) -- The Lee Myung Bak group asserted that "the north's measure is contrary to the inter-Korean agreement" and "it should be retracted immediately," complaining about the measure taken by the DPRK to strictly restrict and cut off all the overland passages through the Military Demarcation Line.
Minju Joson Friday observes in a signed commentary carried in this regard: We cannot but distinguish between right and wrong as regards the above-said grumbling as such sheer lies were told without any blushing by the south Korean Ministry of Unification reported to specialize in handling the issues of the inter-Korean relations and spokesmen for Chongwadae which claims to be "a pivot of the regime."
The DPRK hoped the new regime that emerged in south Korea in February also would implement the inter-Korean joint declarations. But Lee Myung Bak has rushed headlong into confrontation with fellow countrymen after adopting "no nukes, opening and 3,000 dollars" as his "policy toward the north" while sidestepping and negating the June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration, a programme for implementing it. It was none other than the Lee Myung Bak group that defiled "By our nation itself" as "chauvinist nationalism" and debased the June 15 era in which the nation is advancing along the road of reconciliation, cooperation and independent reunification as "the lost decade".
[SK NK policy] [NK SK policy]
President to maintain current N. Korea policy
Lee plans to maintain his Vision 3000 policy, despite recent difficulties in inter-Korean relationship
In what appears to be a new indication he has no plans to change his approach to North Korea anytime soon, President Lee Myung-bak, speaking to officials from the National Unification Advisory Council (NUAC, Minju Pyeongtong) visiting the Blue House on Friday, said that it is “better to move towards true reconciliation and unification by getting off to the right start, even if that is difficult at first, than to arrive at a bad outcome for having been unexacting about the North-South relationship.”
[SK NK policy]
Schools Abandon Kumsung's Left-Leaning History Textbook
An increasing number of high schools nationwide are abandoning the modern history textbook offered by Kumsung Publishing after the company was accused of textbooks with a left-wing bias.
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on Wednesday, 37 of 124 high schools in Seoul which had selected Kumsung's textbook for the 2009 school year changed their minds about the publisher, while 32 of 39 high schools in Gangwon Province followed suit.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education predicted more high schools would also drop the text. The market share of Kumsung's history textbooks is expected to drop from 51 percent to 30 percent in Seoul.
Report Unveils NK Children's Woes
By Park Si-soo
The United Nations delegates who visited the North Korean city of Muncheon in 2001 to inspect the use of international food aid asked a North Korean child if he ate a lot of meat.
``Yes, I ate a lot,'' the child enthusiastically answered. ``We are eating very well every day.'' Other children uniformly nodded to the question.
But a North Korean defector, who had observed the scene, said, ``After the delegates left the town, I learnt teachers had trained them to say `we are eating very well everyday.' Prior to the inspection, the United Nations had supplied huge amounts of meat, enough for children to eat 1 kilogram per day (sic), in the region. However, town authorities never followed the injunction and gave meat to them for the first time right before the visit to prevent children from accidentally revealing the truth.''
Another defector, who lived in Nampo, a port city in the North, said, ``When I was an elementary school student from 1998 to 2000, cookies produced by the U.N. ? so called U.N. biscuits ? were delivered to the school. But they were not free. Teachers announced we had to pay for them.''
A former North Korean, who defected in 2005 from Onsong, said children only had 2-3 days off per week during summer vacations, and were constantly mobilized for farming or other types of work instead of study.
These are among the stories included in a report ``Situation Report on the Rights of the Child.'' Jointly published by Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR) and the Asia Center for Human Rights (ACHR), the report aims to shed light on rampant human rights violations against North Korean children.
Why the Messages to North Korea Must Continue
There has been much controversy about the recent pronouncements against activist groups launching balloons that carry leaflets over to North Korea. The South Korea government is under enormous pressure from the North Korean regime to intervene and stop these launches. There has been a steady stream of angry declarations and threats from North Korea, starting with a threat to shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex, cut off all ties with South Korea, and turn South Korea into debris.
These declarations are just more evidence of how critically important these messages from the free world are in reaching out to the North Korean people. Today, it is perhaps more important than ever that these launches continue because of the declining health of Kim Jong-il and the uncertainty clouding his succession. Now, more than ever before, the North Korean people need to know the truth: that South Koreans and Americans are their friends, who have been trying for decades to save them from starvation and to pressure their dictator to reform his regime.
[Propaganda] [Pro-Americanism] [SK NK policy]
N.Korean Army in Propaganda Leaflet Sweep
North Korea has mobilized soldiers in a campaign to sweep up propaganda leaflets from South Korean activists, which are dropped in large quantities on the coastal areas in South Hwanghae Province, Radio Free Asia on Tuesday quoted North Korean sources in China as saying.
Soldiers collect them in the morning, the broadcaster claimed. Those in charge of food rationing pay more attention to the leaflets. Harsher punishment has reportedly been given to North Koreans who have either kept or read them. It claimed one farmer was interrogated by a state security office and sent to a camp for eight years of labor and indoctrination for having told his neighbors that he had read a leaflet.
North Korean authorities have reportedly ordered residents not to pick up leaflets themselves but report them to state security offices first.
[Analysis] With travel between the two Koreas restricted, what’s next for North and South?
Inter-Korean relations could hinge on results of six-party talks, North’s New Year’s editorial and Obama’s inauguration
» The tour buses returning from Mount Geumgang (Kumgang) en route to South Korea on December 2.
The aftershocks of North Korea’s decision to restrict land travel between North and South continued on Tuesday, as the 501 South Koreans staying in the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex and the 82 at Mount Geumgang (Kumgang) who did not receive residency permits began returning to the South. It is still too early to determine whether the situation is one of ruin or whether things can be repaired. Which way the relationship turns will likely be decided by several important factors.
4,712 people call for abolition of National Security Law
?We cannot speak of democracy and a free progressive movement, or peace and unification, with this law in place,? statement says
» Leaders of South Korea?s 1980-1990 pro-democracy struggle hold a sign that reads ?Annul the National Security Law? at a press conference at the Seoul Press Center on December 1, the 60th anniversary of the NSL?s enactment.
On Monday, the 60th anniversary of the enactment of the National Security Law, a total of 4,712 people from various fields released a statement urging the law?s abolition. The individuals included prominent figures from academia, the religious world and civic and social groups.
Fate of S. Korea’s truth commissions hangs in the balance
Government and ruling party submit bills to merge 14 commissions into one, citing lack of efficiency and redundancy
The plan for merging and abolishing past history truth commissions, professed by the Lee Myung-bak administration since the time of Lee?s presidential transition committee, is showing signs of being realized. Bills for the amendment of 15 related laws, submitted to the National Assembly on November 20 by the Grand National Party?s Shin Ji-ho and 13 other Assembly members, form a framework for combining the functions of the 14 history truth commissions currently operating into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Republic of Korea. The declared purposes behind the amendments were ?cutting the budget and increasing efficiency,? but the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, which is in charge of the effort, put forth the opinion that ?the effects of merger and abolition are not large.? Related groups and victims are protesting vehemently, saying that it is a strategy that seeks to effectively neutralize commission activities while ignoring the historically symbolic nature of truth commissions.
[human rights] [KAL858] [Disinformation]
Marilyn’ wines from the U.S. are on sale at Hyundai Department Store in Apgujeong-dong, Seoul on Sunday
National Security Law marks 60 years
Under the Lee administration, the law and the power of public security organizations depending on it have grown in strength
» Citizens wave signs that read “Annul the National Security Law, Release prisoners of conscience!” at the “World without the National Security Law” ceremony in Jongno-gu, Seoul, on November 30, one day before the 60th anniversary of the NSL’s enactment.
The National Security Law marks its 60th anniversary Monday. Enacted in 1948 as a time-limited law during a period of emergency, the National Security Law itself speaks of South Korea’s winding modern history and of incomplete democracy.
Countless victims have suffered unfairly, including fabricated spies and those arrested for thought crimes because of drunken speech, and no fewer than 16 years have gone by since the UN Human Rights Council designated it a vicious law against human rights and recommended its abolition. But the law has maintained its existence tenaciously, leaning on deep-seated ideological conflicts and a discourse of ideological affiliation in South Korean society. Since the launching of the conservative administration, the National Security Law and the power of public security organizations depending on it have grown in strength.
[NSL] [Human rights]
3 opposition parties release resolution on N. Korea policy
Resolution urges Lee administration to reconcile and cooperate with North
» Democratic Labor Party Chairman Kang Ki-kap, Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun and Renewal of Korea Party Chairman Moon Kook-hyun, from left to right, adopted a joint resolution urging the Lee Myung-bak administration to change its North Korea policy after a meeting at the National Assembly on November 30.
Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun, Democratic Labor Party Chairman Kang Ki-kap, and Renewal of Korea Party Chairman Moon Kook-hyun held an “urgent meeting” November 30 in the National Assembly member office building to discuss ways to deal with what they defined as a crisis in relations with North Korea. During the meeting the leaders of the three opposition parties decided to adopt a four-point joint resolution.
“The leaders of North and South Korea agreed to the June 15 Joint Statement and the October 4 Summit Declaration and the United Nations supported them unanimously. The (South Korean government) must clearly state that it intends to carry out the agreements. It must scrap its unrealistic Vision 3000 plan and change its North Korea policy to be one of reconciliation and cooperation,” the statement said.
[SK NK policy]
Odd man out
Gweon Tae-seon, Editorial writer
The outcry from conservative forces over former President Kim Dae-jung’s comments critical of President Lee Myung-bak’s North Korea policy is simply turning the whole matter on its head. The comments in question called on the opposition and civil society to join together to block the reversal of progress in inter-Korean relations, since the Lee administration is deliberately trying to ruin them. The ruling Grand National Party and other conservative elements are calling what President Kim said a “challenge to the identity of the Republic of Korea” and “agitation for an anti-government struggle.” It is hard to understand how they are raising their voices so, when it was they who turned the country into the state it is in today after just ten months in government.
Since the start of the current administration, democracy has retrogressed so much that Amnesty International has expressed serious concerns about violations of basic rights, such as those regarding a free media and the right to public assembly. The administration boasted about what it would do about the economy, but at this point we are having to worry about negative growth.
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